Nintendo Strengthening Ties With Overseas Developers To Create Hardcore Gamer Hits

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While Nintendo’s recognized brands tend to be popular all over the world, Nintendo themselves are a Japanese company, which means they traditionally focus on certain kinds of games and shy away from others. For instance, they’ve never been in a hurry to develop first-person shooters, which is a genre that performs very well in America.


To develop games that their Japanese teams either can’t or don’t have the time to, Nintendo turn to their U.S. subsidiaries, like Retro Studios (Metroid Prime, Donkey Kong Country Returns) or Nintendo Software Technology. Oftentime, they also contract external western studios such as Monster Games (PilotWings Resort, Excitebots) or Next Level Games (Punch Out!!, Mario Strikers Charged) to develop games for them.


Going forward, you can expect to see more of this with regard to the Wii’s successor, according to Nintendo’s global president, Satoru Iwata.


“Regarding the subject of overseas, there was an era in the past, which was until the time of PlayStation 2, when games made in Japan sold well all over the world,” Iwata said to investors last week. “However, I think that, over the past three or four years, the presence of Japanese software developers has become relatively small.”


While Nintendo games still sell well, Iwata feels that, amongst enthusiast gamers, games like Call of Duty are more mainstream in overseas markets. This, he says, is due to cultural differences becoming clearer than in the past. Western gamers in general tend to prefer more photo-realistic games over software created in Japan.


“Of course, Nintendo will continue to run a business by creating Nintendo-like games, but we will not be able to meet the various tastes of consumers by only doing this,” Iwata emphasized to investors, “so I feel that it will become necessary to reinforce the development resources in the foreign countries. Therefore, I hope we will be able to show you something like that at E3.”

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.